In a world scattered with alternative facts and fake news, it can sometimes be difficult to keep an overview of what is the truth and what is make-believe. One truth is unfortunately undeniable though; climate change. As the last few years have been the hottest global years on record and natural disasters such as hurricanes and droughts are increasing in numbers and severity, we must acknowledge that we are not only destroying the environment but also ourselves.
Rising sea levels as well as the absence of rainfall will leave some of the world’s most idyllic places in grave danger of extinction. And some of these places are actually in a direr state than anticipated. Let alone through the fact that climate change is advancing at an increased rate than predicted. Here are 10 breath-taking places that we might be losing in the near future.
1. The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef just off the coast of Australia, spanning over 2’200km is threatened in its entirety. Not only are rising sea levels slowly swallowing up the Reef but it is also dying out from coral bleaching. This is a condition that makes the colourful corrals turn white and essentially die off. This condition is mainly caused through temperature rise as well as toxins in the waters. Until now, already 50% of the entire area of the Great Barrier Reef has already suffered coral bleaching.
2. The Atolls – Maldives
Scattered in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives are made up of a series of atolls. Atolls are ring shaped islands made up for the most part of coral. The Maldives are one of the most idyllic places on earth, and a year-round temperature of between 27 and 30 degrees Celsius do make it seem like a paradise. However, the Maldives are also the lowest-lying country on earth, being on average only 1,3 meters above sea-level. Therefore, the country in in acute danger of being gobbled up by the ocean’s rising sea level, as rising sea levels have already displaced some of the local population.
3. The Dead Sea – Jordan & Israel
The Dead Sea is shrinking at an alarming rate of roughly 1,20 meters per year. Since the early 1900’s, the Dead Sea has already lost about one third of its surface. This is partially due to the construction of dams and water storage reservoirs which don’t allow water to flow into the Sea at the same rates. The other reason is temperature rise which make the sea even dry out at a more accelerated rate. If nothing is changed, the Dead Sea could be completely dried out by 2050, especially since the Sea’s minerals have been heralded as having healing potentials and thus being exploited commercially.
4. The Amazon Rain Forrest
The Amazon rainforest is the largest of its kind on earth, covering a good 40 percent of South America. This unique biosphere is home to an uncountable number of species of plants and animals. Despite its massive size, climate change is threatening the existence of the Amazons and has rendered it a rather fragile habitat. Some tree species have already been eroded through the extreme periods of droughts and the entire region is more susceptible to forest fires. According to information provided by NASA, the Amazon trees will start to die on a large scale if the area’s dry season lasts longer than 5-7 months and right now, the usual dry season of the last years is just a few weeks shy of that upper estimate.
5. The Rhône Valley – France
The Rhône Valley is located in the south of France and is one of the most recognised and well-known wine-producing regions in the world. The Valley with its iconic vineyards stretches over a length of almost 200 km and visitors can spend weeks driving form one tasting to the next. But the global temperature rise is making the environment less suitable and inhospitable for grape cultivation. Experts expect the grapevines to decease by 85%, inevitably forcing the winemakers to relocate to cooler areas of France.
6. Key West – Florida
This sun-soaked paradise harbouring the southernmost point of the continental United States is well known for its pristine beaches, ideal snorkelling hotspots and pastel coloured buildings. However, even before Hurricane Irma ransacked this marvellous island, this little city was facing environmental challenges. While a sea level rise of 1 metre is expected over the next 25 years, the infrastructure like roadways and other public places will have to undergo massive elevation efforts, to ensure that they won’t sink completely within the next half century.
7. Napa Valley – California
The Napa Valley, one of the premier vineyard locations in the US, is facing similar issues to the Rhône Valley. The drought and elevated temperatures are increasingly threatening the existence of the more than 1000 wine producers in the Napa Valley. It has gotten to the point that it is conceivable that the production of wine, which has been going on in this region since 1859, might one day cease to exist.
8. The European Alps
This mountain range in the heart of Europe has long been serving winter sport enthusiasts as almost sort of a pilgrimage site, as it has some of the world’s most sought-after slopes. With increasing temperatures however, we are witnessing that the periods of premature snowmelts are increasing. This to the point that the winter seasons nowadays, are on average 38 days shorter than in the 1960s. Scientists predict that at the end of the century, there won’t be any snowfall under the 3,000-meter mark. This is why many of the resorts have already begun diversifying their efforts and offer spa treatments and other outdoor activities that aren’t relying on snowfall.
9. Venice – Italy
It would be impossible to picture the canals of Venice without the sea coursing through them. Contrarily to a few places in this list, Venice is not haunted by droughts but rather the increasing sea level. Locals have already become accustomed to regular flooding from the Piazza San Marco and other lower-lying parts of the city. These issues will just continue to aggravate and the city is bound to disappear sooner or later if nothing changes. There are however people taking on the challenge, installing flood gates and similar technologies to combat the impending floods.
10. Mumbai – India
Mumbai, one of the world’s most populous cities, is home to over 18 million people. It is a vibrant city accommodating all walks of life and immersing everyone in its all-consuming spirit. It is also ceaselessly expanding to the point where there are skyscrapers constructed near the shoreline. Unfortunately, such building projects could become hazardous in the near future, as a sea-level rise of only 5 cm would already likely flood major parts of the city. According to scientists, this rise will more likely than not already be happening before the year 2050.